Summer 2018 Seminar on Material Culture: Nominations for Graduate Student Participants

Call for Nominations

The Use of Art and Material Culture in Scholarship and Teaching

A Seminar in Material Culture for Graduate Students in Classics and Ancient History

Directed by Professors Antony Augoustakis and Daniel Leon

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

21 May – 29 June 2018

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana IL

Supported by generous grants from the Leon Levy Foundation and the School of Literatures, and Cultures and Linguistics of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Society for Classical Studies (SCS) invites doctoral programs in Classics or Ancient History to nominate a student to participate in a 6-week seminar that will introduce participants to the use of material culture in their scholarship and teaching. The aim of the seminar is to familiarize students with archaeological material that goes hand in hand with the historical and literary records, and how to incorporate such evidence into historical or philological research. This will be the third of three planned seminars with the same purpose, although each had a different focus.  The first took place at the J. Paul Getty Museum in 2016, and the second at Emory University in 2017.

Background. Despite new awareness of the scope of material evidence, and the ready availability of excellent images, all too often literary scholars treat images as decoration or illustration, while historians exploit the material record only gingerly. Probably more important than “literature” was the oral tradition, and the essential web of images that arose from it. Conversely, it has been wisely said of archaeology that it is a branch of ancient history.

This seminar offers students an opportunity to engage with the material record on a daily basis. Over the six weeks, every effort will be made to introduce the widest range of possibilities encountered in the archaeological record. Not only pottery and sculpture in bronze and marble will be considered, but also works in precious or exotic materials like ivory, gold, silver, amber, gems, glass, faience, and colored stones. Questions of manufacture and circulation will predominate: how these objects were made, by whom, for whom, why, and how to recognize them in the literary, historical and epigraphic record.

Resources and Faculty. Participants will have access to the University’s two teaching and research museums which hold extensive Greek and Roman collections. The Krannert Art Museum has a fine collection of Attic vases dating from the middle Archaic to the early Classical periods (, published as a fascicule in the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum (USA, fasc. 24, 1989). The Spurlock’s Museum Workman Gallery of the Ancient Mediterranean Cultures features an extensive collection of artifacts (pottery, sculpture, coins) from Greece and Rome, as well as an incomparable collection of plaster casts reproducing the whole Parthenon frieze, the Ara Pacis and numerous individual sculptures (

Furthermore, the Classics Library Collection is among the three largest libraries of its kind in the nation, and one of the most important in the world ( The collection was initially enriched by the acquisition of the libraries of Dittenberger and Vahlen. Perhaps more than any other American institution of higher learning, the University of Illinois has tied its academic enterprise to the cultivation of its research library, and the Classics collection is one of its jewels: it is autonomous (all books and journals located in one space), on the second floor of the Main Library, adjacent to the primary Reading Room and the Main Stacks.

The course is co-ordinated by Professors Antony Augoustakis and Daniel Leon together with a group of scholars from the University and neighboring schools: Professor Susan Rotroff (Greek Archaeology, Washington University in St. Louis), Professor Sinclair Bell (Etruscan and Roman Archaeology, Northern Illinois University), Professor James Dengate (Greek Archaeology and Numismatics, UIUC), Professor Susan Frankenberg (Coordinator of Museum Studies, UIUC), Dr. Katherine Kreindler (Etruscan Archaeology, UIUC), Professor John Senseney (Greek and Roman Architecture, UIUC), Dr. Maureen Warren (Curator of European and American Art, Krannert Art Museum, UIUC).

Proximity to Chicago and St. Louis will allow participants to benefit from two excursions to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and the St. Louis Art Museum in order to study additional artifacts.

Schedule. The seminar is structured in broadly chronological terms, from Greece and the Near East to Rome and the West, including lectures on museum studies and modern technological advances. Three two-hour classes are planned around an over-arching theme each week, outlined in the synopsis. Additional two-hour sessions will provide students with guided study regarding their projects. Excursions to local artists’ workshops and to Chicago/St. Louis are planned for the end of each week.  Click here for a synopsis of the schedule.

Expectations of Students. Students will be evaluated based on a combination of exercises on each week’s instruction and a larger research project developed on an individual basis. We expect students to identify a project that suits their interests and uses University of Illinois resources. Each student will pursue their project under the supervision of one of the leading discussants in the seminar and in collaboration with Professors Augoustakis and Leon. The seminar will include mini-presentations on objects from the collections as well as on the individual projects of the students. At the conclusion of the seminar the directors will submit a written report to each student’s home department, assessing the student’s progress in working with material culture.

Logistics and Funding. Students selected for the seminar will be offered free accommodation at the University of Illinois (furnished apartments). Bus service is provided for transportation to the Museums and classrooms/library. As a campus of about 50,000 students, options for food and entertainment are many and multicultural. The University is located 130 miles south of Chicago. Champaign-Urbana is accessible by airplane (University of Illinois Willard airport, serviced by American Airlines and United with several daily flights to and from Chicago and Dallas), as well as Amtrak trains and numerous bus routes. In addition, thanks to the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation, the SCS will provide a stipend of up to $2,000 to cover the cost of travel to and from Illinois, and modest out of pocket expenses. The SCS believes that these arrangements will offset many but by no means all of the costs of attendance at the seminar.

Nomination Process. Each doctoral program may nominate only one student for the seminar. The focus of the student’s academic work should be classical languages, literatures, and/or history and not archaeology or other areas of material culture. Preference will be given to graduate students who are still taking coursework or in the early stages of writing their dissertation. Nominators should elicit from potential applicants a CV and a statement of the value that the student expects to derive from attending the seminar, choose one applicant to nominate, and forward the CV and statement to the SCS Executive Director (, along with a brief endorsement. The student’s statement should be 500 to 700 words in length and should describe how the seminar would advance the applicant’s education and scholarly interests. The student him or herself should also email the Executive Director ( with full name, mailing address, phone number.

A committee consisting of Professors Antony Augoustakis and Daniel Leon as co-chairs and Professors Mary English (SCS Vice President for Education) and Donald Mastronarde (SCS VP for Publications and Research) will select participants from ten different academic institutions and a variety of countries of origin. Although many applicants from North America are expected, students from all countries are equally welcome. Reasonable fluency in English is the only requirement.

Nominations by departments and emails from student nominees including their full contact information should be submitted electronically to no later than 15 February 2018. The SCS will announce the decisions of the selection committee by the end of February. Questions about the seminar program may be directed to Professor Augoustakis at or by telephone at 217 333 7327.


(Photo: Marble Head of Empress Fausta. Gift of Betty Campanile, 1982.07.000. Image courtesy of the Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)


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From John Gruber-Miller:

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